When: Sunday, January 15 at 5 PM C.T.
Where: Devlin Fieldhouse (New Orleans, LA)
TV/Radio: CBSSN/KAAM 770
Series: SMU leads 18-13.
Last Meeting: SMU beat Tulane 74-53 on February 28, 2016 at Moody Coliseum.
SMU's ten-game winning streak was snapped in a heartbreaker against Cincinnati on Thursday night. Sterling Brown's potential go-ahead three pointer rimmed out with seven seconds left and Ben Moore missed a putback attempt. SMU rode a second half surge to come back against the Bearcats, who had built a 27-12 lead early in the game. Mustang fans should still be optimistic despite the close loss. SMU hung tight with their top competitor in the conference and one of the best 25 teams in the country on the road.
During SMU's winning streak, they played good defense and rebounded the ball well. They had some breakdowns against Cincinnati, allowing 12 three-pointers, but still held the Bearcats to 66 points. They out-rebounded Cincinnati 37-27. SMU should get back on track against a Tulane team that is among the worst in the conference.
Tulane won their most recent game against USF, improving their record to 4-12 on the season. They is ranked just #276 by KenPom, and have a number of bad losses this year. The worst of those losses is a 70-63 defeat at the hands of McNeese State, who lost to SMU by 36. Tulane's opponents outscore them by an average of 8.4 points per game, partially due to their three-point defense. Tulane's opponents shoot a whopping 40.7% from three against them. Sterling Brown, Semi Ojeleye and SMU's other snipers should have a field day against them. Tulane is also an inefficient shooting team, at just 39.8% from the field on the season.
Tulane Players to Watch
G Cameron Reynolds: Reynolds bounced back from an awful junior season in which he shot just 34.9% from the field to become Tulane's best player. He is leading Tulane with 15.4 points per game and is second on the team with 6.2 rebounds. Reynolds is a good three-point shooter, at 40.7% on the season on six attempts per game.
G Kain Harris: Harris is scoring at a great clip this season, averaging 12.1 points per game in just 20.9 minutes. That is good for over 23 points per 40 minutes. Like Reynolds, Harris is money from beyond the arc at 43.1% for the season. Harris had 27 points off the bench in Tulane's last game against USF.
G Malik Morgan: Morgan has not been an effective scorer this season, but he has a strong all-around game. He leads Tulane with 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Morgan is also a solid defender. However, he is shooting a ghastly 20.8% from three this season on 3.3 attempts per game, so he shouldn't beat SMU with his shooting.
Projected Tulane starters:
G Ray Ona Embo
G Melvin Frazier
G Cameron Reynolds
G Malik Morgan
C Ryan Smith
Projected SMU starters:
G Shake Milton
G Jarrey Foster
G Sterling Brown
F Ben Moore
F Semi Ojeleye
Matchup to Watch
Sterling Brown vs. Cameron Reynolds: Coming off a 20 point, 11 rebound double-double, Brown is SMU's hottest player. He has made nine three pointers over SMU's last two games, emerging as a dangerous secondary scoring threat to Semi Ojeleye. He will be tasked with guarding Reynolds, Tulane's leading scorer. Brown is foul-prone, so he will have to be careful against Reynolds, who is the focal point of Tulane's offense.
Keys to the Game
SMU cannot let Reynolds and Kain Harris beat them from three. The Mustangs had defensive lapses against Cincinnati, helping too far off their men and not getting back in time for the shot. They cannot afford to do this against Harris and Reynolds, who are lights out from three. Coming off the bench, Harris may be matched up with Ben Emelogu, who struggled on defense against Cincinnati. Getting Harris going gives Tulane their best chance, and SMU should not let that happen.